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Policies & Politics

Why So Much Opposition Towards Plastic Bag Bans and Taxes?

Cities around the world are enforcing the use of reusable shopping bags.

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Countries worldwide are slowly adopting plastic bag bans, or they’re enforcing plastic bag tax to charge those who are not using the reusable fabric bags that are being sold in many stores. I’m behind the idea, and have been using reusable bags long before the stores I regularly shop at began charging 5c, but I’ve been surprised to see a fair amount of online outrage with these changes that should be positive.

That’s not to say that there’s no support behind use of reusable bags online, but search for a phrase like “reusable bags”, or “plastic bag bans” on a social networking site like Twitter and you’ll see that people are fairly evenly split whether they’re for or against banning plastic bags.

Not surprisingly, one of the main concerns is cost. For people on a tight budget, having to purchase reusable bags even one time seems to be a concern. It’s even more costly for those who instead choose to pay the bag tax for every large grocery shop.  Some say that a few extra bucks to save the toll on the environment is certainly worthwhile and it shouldn’t be questioned. But for those living dollar-to-dollar and paycheck-to-paycheck, every cent counts. This goes back to a common debate — environmental options are just too expensive.

We might not be talking about the same size figures like those that apply to green vehicles, but what it comes down to is when there are costs associated some people need incentives that go beyond knowing the greater environmental good. Those who are against the use of reusables, would probably be more apt to jump on board if they got something in return. A coupon book for discounts on grocery shopping, or even a small percentage discount offered to those who put all of their shopping in eco-friendly bags.

Of course, in addition to the cost issue, businesses are also questioning how this will impact their advertising plan when many reusable bags available don’t promote the same way plastic bags tend to.  With regards to this element, there is sure to be an easy solution. It’s those who are worrying about cost, or just don’t like being told what they can or cannot do that will still need to be won over when it comes to the plastic bag bans and taxes.

Image Via: ATIS547 via flickr/CC License




One comment
  1. Robert Stockham

    Nice to see this post. I wrote something similar last month. I used to live in Oregon where plastic bags were discouraged and a nickel discount was given to most people who brought in their own bag. In Ohio, bags are very over used-does a gallon of milk with a handle really need its own bag, let alone double bagged? And just try to get someone to give you a paper bag… My post says more(http://thegldc.com/blog/2010/04/21/paper-plastic-or-other-what-does-it-take-to-reduce-plastic-bags/) but I never did think about the cost to the consumer, perhaps if the added expense of using so many plastic bags were eliminated, we might see a modest drop in consumer grocery pricing.

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